By Albert Smith
Originally published on Advocate.com February 27 2010 2:00 AM ET
Why are you a photographer?
I started taking photographs at a young age; it's always been a means of exploring. My camera has always been a safe barrier between me and the subject.
What catches your eye?
Everything ... I'm a sidewalk starer! But it's fresh energy, swagger, and visualizing things in their rawest, purest form.
How do you choose your subjects, and why?
Personality, mostly ... subjects that surprise me and are confident. They have to have that "thing." Something distinctive — whether their lifestyle, fashion sense, a particular facial feature, hair, and so on. I do a lot of pavement stomping, street casting, and keep close relations with a handful of agencies.
How do you describe your work?
Honest, intimate, and with a bit of humor. I'm the voyeur and a participant.
What makes a good photograph to you?
Who are your favorite artists? Why?
Wow. It's hard to say. I like painter Kehinde Wiley. His work brings sensitivity to cold brick city. It's timeless and new. It's brilliant to see where street influences high culture. I like young designers like Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air and Cassette Playa's Carri Mundane. They're original, stay to true to their vision and push boundaries, influencing new generations to make fashion more personal and creative, as well as inspire well-known companies like Givenchy and Nike. For more personal and influential favorites I’d have to say Helmut Newton and Stanley Kubrick for their translations of luxury and mystery, ideas of beauty, humor, and irony. Telling stories of reveling within the "taboo curtain" and releasing it to the mainstream. The viewer realizes "Hey, maybe I am normal! Or really fucked up in some cases! Lovely!”